Local singer-songwriter fills The Cabin with honest, relatable music

The Cabin showcased the music of up and coming artist Ben Vanden Boogaard

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Photo by Faith Hultman

Ben Vanden Boogaard performs a collection of self-written songs at the Cabin at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

From breakups to dating apps and Dutch girls, Ben Vanden Boogaard covered it all with a collection of honest, self-written songs last Saturday night at The Cabin.

The artist, who is a self-proclaimed “singer-songwriter of soul pop with folk influences,” performed songs from his recent five-song EP, along with other self-written songs and a variety of covers to a cozy crowd.

Vanden Boogaard’s beat up high tops and button-down only increased his relatability as he played songs on both acoustic and electric guitar about girls who got away, friendships that got weird and his experience using dating apps.

The 23-year-old released an EP titled “Sunflower Season” in February. He recorded it while studying abroad in the Netherlands, and it is available on iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp, Vanden Boogaard said.

“People come and go in our lives,” Vanden Boogaard said about his EP, “and we have to appreciate the seasons.”

Along with songs from “Sunflower Season,” Vanden Boogaard played songs from his “debut album,” as he called it, using finger quotes. A CD of this album was available for free, because the audience was full of “broke college students,” Vanden Boogaard said.

Vanden Boogaard’s musical inspirations include John Mayer, Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson, he said. These inspirations were reflected in the covers he performed, along with other artists, including Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Backstreet Boys and Taylor Swift.

Because he was in Eau Claire, he decided to cover a famous local artist as well.

“It’s kind of a cliche,” Vanden Boogaard said, “but I felt like I had to cover some Bon Iver.”

Vanden Boogaard, who is a soon-to-graduate student at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, is a native of Little Chute. He learned to play the guitar in high school as a hobby and participated in various choirs throughout his secondary education and in college. After two years of studying at UW-La Crosse and switching from pre-med to a vocal performance major, he decided to “go all in,” and transfer to a more contemporary music school, Vanden Boogaard said.

“I hated my bio classes,” Vanden Boogaard said. “I definitely didn’t want to do pre-med, and I really liked music.”

This is his third year at McNally Smith. After graduating he hopes to make music a career that can support him. His “ideal dream plan” is to tour nationally and be played on the radio, Vanden Boogaard said.

“I’m just establishing myself as an artist so that labels will look at me and want to sign me,” Vanden Boogaard said. “Come September I’m kinda just gonna go with my gut and either stay in the Twin Cities, or move to (Los Angeles) or Nashville.”